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Yellow Journalism: The Cause of the Spanish-American war?

 

Yellow Journalism: The Cause of the Spanish-American war?                                                                        


          

The Spanish-American War was a brief conflict between Spain and America occurring on April-July of 1898. This war was credited to the ending of Spain’s worldwide empire and the gain of several new territories or “possessions” in the Caribbean and the Pacific for the U.S. The Spanish-American war was indirectly caused by Yellow Journalism.

In 1898, the newspapers provided the news for the public.  At the time it was common for the editors to change the stories. This meant the papers reported the editor’s interpretation of the news and not an objective stand point. This meant that the editors were able to affect the public opinion. The editor’s then started to use the newspapers for their own personal gain. This is what is called yellow journalism which is indirectly the reason for the Spanish-American War. This is not to say however that the editors of the newspapers wanted a war just for the sake of it. The newspapers editor’s wanted a war because it would mean that more of the public would want to know what is happening and therefore they would buy more newspapers. So the editor’s newspapers had a drastic effect on the public opinion which the led to America going to war. (Yellow Journalism), (The "Yellow Fever" of Journalism)
One of the reasons that Yellow Journalism had such a large effect of the public was how it was organized. A big characteristic of yellow journalism was having scare headlines in huge print. The papers would put an event that would easily be able to gain the attention of the readers and would word the headline to create a reaction with the reader which would make them want to read more. The general public had no idea that what they were reading was untrue so they grew angry and started clamoring to go to war with Spain. An example of the newspapers using this tactic was when the New York Journal posted a paper which headlines read: CRISIS AT HAND cabinet in session, growing belief in SPANISH TREACHERY. The paper specifically put parts of the sentence in capitals so that someone who was just scanning the paper would get two lines, 1: CRISIS AT HAND and 2: SPANISH TREACHERY. This strategy had a large part in causing the Spanish-American war because of the affect that it had on the public. (The Spanish-American War)
Besides the title and front page format Newspapers were able to affect the public opinion in other ways. By having photos that showed terrible scenes such as the concentration camp in Cuba where they held the rebels to control the population were able to generate a lot of bad feelings toward Spain and started to convince America’s public that they should go to war. The picture that had the biggest affect and really pushed America to go to war with Spain was the picture of the Maine gun boat being blown up. However it wasn’t just the picture that set America’s general public off but the caption and who they said was to blame. When The World (which was a newspaper at the time) came out with the article the caption read that the Maine explosion was not an accident it was actually the work of the Spanish. We now know that it was a problem with the ship itself however the newspaper still put this in there article with no real evidence to back their claim which a large part of what yellow journalism is. (Wikipedia for the photo) (The Spanish American War)
The Spanish-American war was mainly caused by the general public clamoring to go to war with Spain. However it was Yellow journalism that affected the opinions of the American people. By having large captions that weren’t always truthful they were able to capture the public eye and then changed the public’s view of Spain with picture and captions similar to propaganda against Spain. A quote that sums up yellow journalism and the part it played in the Spanish-American war is “You furnish the pictures and I'll furnish the war.” by William Randolph Hearst.

Bibliography:
·         http://library.thinkquest.org/C0111500/spanamer/yellow.htm
·         http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yellow_journalism#Origins:_Pulitzer_vs._Hearst
·         http://iml.jou.ufl.edu/projects/spring04/vance/yellowjournalism.html
·         http://alt.tnt.tv/movies/tntoriginals/roughriders/war.home.html
·         http://www.bing.com/images/search?q=%2byellow+journalism+headlines#focal=194543afbae851a6c705d896159a92af&furl=http%3A%2F%2Fupload.wikimedia.org%2Fwikipedia%2Fcommons%2Fe%2Fe8%2FWorld98.jpg
·         http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Propaganda_of_the_Spanish%E2%80%93American_War
·         http://www.smplanet.com/imperialism/remember.html

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